First published in the July 2 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The food, fireworks and festivities associated with July Fourth are fun for most Americans, but the same can’t be said for our pets.
Ask any pet owner — this holiday is often traumatic for four-legged family members, who can have a phobic reaction to fireworks and other loud sights and sounds. Anxious dogs have been known to dig under or jump over fences, break tethers, or even shatter windows in response to their fireworks fears.
That’s why it’s best to prevent your pet ending up injured or at a busy shelter overflowing with other lost pets. Best Friends Animal Society offers these tips to keep your pets as safe as possible during the holiday:
• Bring all pets indoors whenever neighborhood fireworks displays are likely, making sure that any potentially harmful food or alcohol is kept out of reach.
• Secure pets in a room, close the windows, draw the curtains, surround them with comforting toys and play loud music or turn on the television to drown out the frightening sounds.
• Always keep pets away from lit fireworks (including in your own backyard). Some will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk of being burned or blinded in the process.
• Fireworks also contain substances that are toxic if ingested, so be sure to keep unlit fireworks out of reach.
• Ensure that pets are wearing current identification tags, and make sure your current contact info is recorded with the vet clinic or shelter that implanted the microchip.
• Have a plan in place in case your pet does go missing that includes calling and visiting the local shelter and posting information about your missing pet on platforms such as Nextdoor and Facebook.
With staffing shortages and decreased availability across the country, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure for your pets.
“The last thing you want is an emergency over a holiday, when many veterinary clinics and shelters are closed or open only for limited hours,” said Erin Katribe, veterinarian and medical director of Best Friends Animal Society. “If you know your pets get severely anxious, discuss pharmaceutical options with your veterinarian in advance. Several medications to treat anxiety in pets are available.”
As Katribe noted, it’s important to do this based on your pet’s weight, age and health issues, so make sure to get the proper prescription and dosage from your veterinarian. Milder anxiety may be helped with supplements, such as those containing tryptophan, or a compression-style garment, such as a Thundershirt, which swaddles your pet and comforts them.
Pet first-aid kits can help treat minor injuries such as scrapes or cuts at home while more serious situations such as puncture wounds, burns, broken bones, eye injuries, or heat stroke require consulting with a veterinarian immediately.
“If medical care is warranted, start by contacting your veterinarian’s office to see if they can take your pet for an emergency exam. If not, you may need to go to a 24/7 emergency facility, which your vet can refer you to,” Katribe said. “I recommend that all pet owners find out the contact information of their local emergency clinic ahead of time, so that it’s quickly within reach in those unexpected moments.”
For more information, visit bestfriends.org.